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Statement of the Hon. Jared Golden on Smart Construction: Increasing Opportunities for Small Businesses in Infrastructure

Washington, November 19, 2019

American infrastructure needs an upgrade. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, American infrastructure received a D+. This is the very reason why there must be a strong infrastructure agenda---one that focuses on investing in our outdated roads, bridges, rails, airports, transit, and water systems.

Doing so will increase opportunities for small businesses in construction, manufacturing, engineering, and many more small businesses while at the same time creating good paying jobs and increasing our competitiveness. The current administration has made claims that infrastructure is a top priority but the rubber has not met the road.

Along with upgrading our roads and bridges, a comprehensive infrastructure package must incorporate information technology and communications so that our nation not only has the safest and most efficient infrastructure but also the most modern. The internet of things, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing offer new opportunities for smart applications in many industries. In particular, technology has the ability to re-shape the construction industry by creating digital construction solutions where small firms can lead the way.

From GPS-enabled equipment to advanced digital modeling, smart tools are making projects less expensive, more eco-friendly, and more efficient. More importantly digital construction also levels the playing field for small contractors. Through investing in digital tools, small businesses can write lower bids and compete for larger projects.

Smart tools also pay for themselves. Increased business and timelier project completion allow small contractors to bring in more business. Early adoption of digital technologies creates a competitive advantage. In fact, 69% of owners say poor contractor performance is the single biggest reason for project underperformance and only 25% of projects came within 10% of their original deadline in the last 3 years.

Digital tools also give contractors access to powerful data that can help them make informed decisions about materials and design that makes structures safer. Smart buildings enabled by digital tools help civil engineers, developers, and architects reduce a building’s carbon footprint and increase their sustainability.

Inspecting structures like bridges and tall buildings was once a dangerous, time-consuming task. Now proptech sensors are built into buildings that can help assess when there is damage and when buildings need to be maintained. Drones also offer a way to survey buildings and terrain after a natural disaster. These cutting-edge solutions cut costs and save lives. I hope that today’s discussion will shed light on the many ways digital construction can benefit small businesses and encourage broader adoption of digital tools.

 

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